Three sisters travel back to their childhood home after their mother goes missing while diving in a lake so deep the bottom has never been found. Legend has it seven sisters drowned long ago and that if you take to the cold waters at night, you may not return.
With the sister’s bickering with familial ease, writer and director Sarah Adina Smith draws strong performances from the small cast as unresolved differences surface prompting strong emotions, and her voyeuristic direction subtly places you amidst the delicate balance of their relationships.
From the outset themes of reincarnation and spirituality are prevalent in The Midnight Swim, though throughout Smith is teasing her audience. She hints that the psychological melodrama unfolding on screen could descend into more supernatural territory. But that isn’t her intention. Instead, perhaps to fill time, she presents curious interludes where the sisters perform a music video montage, and then take it in turns to dress as their deceased parent, a scene that becomes awkwardly revealing.
There’s nothing dramatic here, no realisation of hidden horrors, just a slow, tangible tension that is disquieting if not exactly frightening. This is a study in grief, of being unable to let go of one’s former feelings and relations both for good and ill. And sadly, this manifests in a rather bland movie, with little to draw in and retain interest from a casual viewer.
For some, there will be poignancy in The Midnight Swim, even something cathartic, in identifying recognisable traits and emotions. For most, it will be a trying 80 minutes peppered with indulgences that simply do not resonate.
The Midnight Swim is available on digital platforms.